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Claire Williams reflects on F1 turnaround in past two years

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BIRMINGHAM – Claire Williams believes that there was no luck involved in the turnaround that has seen Williams Martini Racing move from the bottom of the midfield towards the top of the Formula 1 pecking order in the past two years.

After enduring a barren run of form that saw the team finish no higher than sixth in the constructors’ championship between 2008 and 2013, Williams has since resurged to come third in both 2014 and 2015.

Drivers Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa (pictured) have forged a good partnership and enjoy strong working relationships with the team, while the car design has been complemented well by the Mercedes power unit.

Speaking at the Autosport International show in Birmingham, England on Saturday, deputy team principal Williams spoke about the team’s revival and said how it made a conscious decision in 2013 to make a fresh start in many areas.

“I think where we were in 2011, 2012, 2013, we finished I think ninth, eighth and ninth, and then the past two consecutive years, just two years after that, we have taken third in the constructors’ championship against teams which have much bigger budgets with far greater resources and personnel,” Williams said.

“We’ve managed to hold our ground and take third. We’ve done the most extraordinary transformation at Williams and I always say it’s not by luck. People say ‘you’re so lucky, you know, everything turning around at Williams’. It was not by luck, it was by design.

“Everybody really got on board with the transformation there, the board and the executive committee at Williams needed to undertake and bring in change. You can’t just keep go racing hoping things will be different.”

However, Williams believes that the team faces an even greater challenge now as it tries to bridge the gap to Mercedes and Ferrari at the front of the pack in F1.

“The hardest piece of the puzzle really is now,” Williams said. “How do we close the gap to the Ferraris and the Mercedes and fight for a championship?

“Turning around when you’re doing so badly, you’ve obviously got so many things wrong in your organisation, you know what they are, you’ve got to change them.

“But this is the hardest piece of work for us now, moving forwards.”

Keating stripped of Le Mans GTE-Am win; No. 68 Ganassi entry also disqualified

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FIA stewards announced Monday that two Ford GT entries have been disqualified from this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, including the GTE-Am class-winning No. 85 entry from privateer Keating Motorsports.

Also DQ’d was the factory No. 68 Chip Ganassi Racing entry of Joey Hand, Dirk Mueller and Sebastien Bourdais, which initially finished fourth in the GTE-Pro class.

Both entries were found in violation of fuel capacity regulations, with the No. 85 entry also failing to meet the minimum refueling time during pit stops.

The refueling system on the No. 85 entry, driven by Ben Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen and Felipe Fraga, measured a time of 44.4 seconds during a stop, just shy of the minimum required time of 45 seconds.

As a result, the team was initially issued a 55.2-second post-race penalty by officials, which elevated the No. 56 Team Project 1 Porsche 911 RSR of Joerg Bergmeister, Patrick Lindsey, and Egidio Perfetti to the class win.

The time penalty was calculated by the difference in the refueling time (0.6 seconds) multiplied by the amount of pit stops made by the team (23), then multiplied by four.

The No. 85 entry was set to finish second in class, but then received an outright DQ after its fuel capacity was also revealed to be 0.1 liters above the maximum permitted capacity of 96 liters.

As for Ganassi’s No. 68 entry, it was found to have a fuel capacity of 97.83 liters, which is above the maximum allowed capacity of 97 liters for the GTE-Pro Fords.

The No. 67 Ford of Andy Priaulx, Harry Tincknell, and Jonathan Bomarito subsequently moves up to fourth, and the No. 69 Ford of Scott Dixon, Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbrook moves up to fifth.

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